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February 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills


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Props whomp-whomp-whomp a steady rhythm like the heartbeat of the plane. Cold air seeps through my window, and I can’t help but stare beyond the plane’s beating blades. It’s the only hint of sun I’ve seen over Svalbard since arriving in January. Sherbert hues of lemon and raspberry will be the single spoonful of sunlight for one hour and 54 minutes. And then it sets.

You might be wondering if my snow enclave with Lady Lake Superior has morphed with the Norwegian Arctic, but I assure you I’m still trapped by her snowy tendrils and merely dreaming of staring out the window at the only bit of sun my middlest daughter sees these days.

Mine is a voyage of the imagination. My daughter is the one who experiences the moment in person.

Rock Climber (or perhaps her arctic name should be Ice Cave Empress) lives in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. She recently posted this photo on her way to a remote job (as if Longyearbyen isn’t remote enough) in Svea. I’m along for an imaginary ride, hearing the endless whomp of the blades, feeling it connecting me to my daughter whose ice caverns are far away from my icy lakeshores.

As inhospitable as ice might be, my daughter writes that the movie, Frozen, has nothing on the ice caverns above Sveagruva (which means Swedish Mine, Svea to the locals). Sculpted frozen flows open like crystal orchids. My daughter explored inside with the small mining town lit up in the valley of snow below. She watched the Northern Lights pool and spray over a glacier, not bothering to take pictures because she said a camera could never catch the dance.

For now, her greatest danger comes from avalanches. A third of housing in Longyearbyen is under avalanche watch, so Rock Climber and her partner, Chef, are working in Svea where they can find rooms. Workers are only allowed 10 days rotation. They don’t seem to mind the dislocation, flying over partial sunrises and endless glaciers. They relish their life on ice.

I’ve come to welcome mine, too.

Last week, Winter Carnival unfolded across Michigan Tech University. Engineering students from nations around the world pulled the traditional over-nighter to finish building ice castles and sculptures. This year, Camelot rose just a few blocks from where I write. Frozen in ice, King Arthur kneels at the sword. Ah, I knew Superior was the Lady of the Lake! Here are the winning sculptures:

Ice ages. I don’t refer to “the” ice ages — I mean, ice grows old. It gets heavy and lined, pocked and dirty. It melts and turns crystalline until grabbing on to more layers of snow. It reminds me of aged cheese. But don’t worry, I’m not going to spread it on a cracker and eat it. I know what the critters do on ice!

Outside my front window, I watch five squirrels run the same tree branch trail around and around. As they bounce from bough to bough, snow plops to the aged ice below. I watch as my daughter flies over glaciers. If the snow extends from here through Canada, across to Greenland and over to Svalbard, are we standing on the same continent of ice?

Where does a mother go when the birds have fledged? I’ve watched male mergansers inflate their heads during their mating season, then shrivel up and fly away. The female mergansers remain, hiding nests from sky-prowlers like eagles and owls. Tufts of feathers emerge as baby mergansers. They grow bold and take to deeper waters and diving. I’ve seen the pond full of mergansers on the verge of flight and within days find only the emptiness.

A few mothers linger about. Neatening up the nest? Taking up grass knitting or reading the stars at night like books, no longer worried about death raining down as eagle claws? The babes made it. The mothers are on their own.

Rock Climber lands in Svea and already morning has turned to dark of night. The whomping blades shudder to stop, and she walks away from the window to new sights and adventures. I tidy up my ice and think of her laugh. My daughter is only an ice flow away. The polar bears slumber and the sun is making a return. She’s the Ice Cavern Empress, and I’m a writing merganser dreaming of sherbert on ice.

February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you.

Respond by February 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Pups on Ice (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Garan blew past Danni, kicking up clumps of powder from the recent snowstorm. When he hit the ice, all four paws skittered, and he crashed to his chest, sliding across the smooth expanse.

Danni let out a hoot, and the herd of German Short-haired puppies slowed their bumbling approach to the ice. They pestered their mother, Det and yipped at their father who scrambled to gain traction on the pond. The runt took a bold step, then slipped on the glazed surface.

One bumped another, and then the chase-slipping began. Danni laughed, the only audience to Pups on Ice.



  1. I’m crazy for ducks. Loved the post.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. […] Via #CarrotRanchFlashFiction […]

    Liked by 3 people

  3. denmaniacs4 says:


    I think of the night,
    The cutting eyes of night
    And sometimes in my fright
    When nothing seems quite right,
    When the topsy turvy globe
    Is spinning like a strobe,
    I fall down on the earth,
    Recall my accidental birth,
    nothing really planned,
    for I was not much more
    Than a prehistoric man,
    Lost in a primeval land,
    Trekking deep in snow,
    Wind, ripping through my skin,
    Ice crystals dangling,
    The chill, damp grave cold,
    Slipping deeper still,
    Clawing my way back,
    The night, deadly black,
    that need to sleep,
    The need to weep
    To fall into ice

    Liked by 11 people

  4. Annecdotist says:

    I’m glad you can follow your daughter’s adventures in spirit at least, Charli. It must be a bittersweet moment when they leave the nest but of course that’s your job to let them go.
    Although I’d have liked to have seen the photos, your daughter’s right in enjoying the Northern Lights rather than fiddling about with a camera or phone. And those ice sculptures are amazing!
    I felt for that puppy making the confusing transition from snow to ice. There was a heavy frost here this morning but the only ice that remains is on our pond and – I hope sole goldfish survives!
    I’ll post the link to my flash tomorrow: I’ve paired it with a review of a novel set in a hotel.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. paulamoyer says:

    Lady on Ice

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean had lived in Minnesota long enough to distrust two occurrences in the winter.

    One was a sunny, cold day. The newspaper weather report called it “bright, ineffective sunshine” – the kind of day when the humidity is low and the barometric pressure is high. A subzero-high kind of day.

    The other suspicious event: the first days above freezing. Those days involved lots of melting snow and ice during the day. But it refroze overnight.

    Jean registered the mirrored pavement as she carried her trash to the alley. Careful, careful – woops! Careful wasn’t enough. Lucky. She landed on her butt.

    Liked by 11 people

  6. For this challenge, I wanted to use all of the suggestions “It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice.” I like to write about flawed characters and how they react to life.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. […] Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful to see Danni laughing with the pups 🙂 Lovely, poignant post Charli. Your nest is feathered with the joy of knowing your daughter is only one ice shelf away. And how very proud you are as her mama ❤ Fantastic ice sculptures!Now that I know about my Norwegian heritage, I am more drawn than ever! The Northern Lights a must. It is amazing to think of such a tiny piece of sunshine every day. Looking forward to returning in an ice flash hopefully! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I felt comforted by the thought that ice connected me to my adventurous daughter. And to your Norwegian ancestors, too! Aren’t those sculptures incredible? I heard from locals that they used to be even bigger but that liability now regulates them to a certain height. I have a Northern Lights app on my phone. I’m determined to see them over Lake Superior one (clear) night! Thanks for riding up to the Ranch, Sherri!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Juliet says:

    Hi everyone,
    I loved your post Charli, it’s not always easy being a Mama Bird.
    Another sad piece from me today. I wonder when I will stop writing these depressing flashes…

    The Final Show

    Her make-up was all wrong. How could his father have let someone smear on that gawdy lipstick and pink blusher? This woman looked like an ageing Russian doll, not his dear, dead mother.

    As more visitors entered the darkened rooom the humming continued. How many of them realised she was lying on a freezer, its dull whirring working hard to keep away the onset of decomposure.

    She would have hated this final viewing. All these people, all this sad music.

    This was his father’s doing. A final attempt to make things right. This was his show – Guilt on Ice.

    Liked by 10 people

  10. […] Carrot Ranch Literary Community Challenge for February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Okey Dokey… It took me a long time today but here I am. I hope you’ll like my cinquain creativity.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. I’m very much digging your written word. Flowing like the 2 mile high Flagstaff snow. Kinda reminds me of my at times flowing diatribe. Stay up on it. Your star is mega mach blasting through the elongated galactic all encompassing endless space.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. […] February 15: Flash Fiction Challenge February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jules says:


    I can imagine every Pup skating 🙂

    We’ve had more rain… though some chilled air is expected over the weekend.

    I doubled my fun here (title is link to post):
    New Beginnings?

    New Beginnings?

    Geegee waited at the bus stop. Not really needing to go
    anywhere. It had been a long cold winter and this spring
    day it just felt good to get out of her apartment. She was
    staring so intently at the crocus sprouting from the side-
    walk that she almost missed his ‘ice-breaker’…

    “Mighty fine day we’re having after all isn’t it Ma’am,”
    Leroy gently rested his old body with respectable space
    between them. “Glory be, that’s one bulb caught between
    a rock n’ a hard place ain’t it?”

    “Well sure enough it is!” Geegee looked toward Leroy
    and smiled.


    Liked by 8 people

  15. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – February 15, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on […]

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Thank you for the challenge. Wishing you all a great weekend.


    I’d been deported from Belzonia “for exhibiting dandruff.” I felt they were scratching around for an excuse. Across the border, I headed for No Mules Creek. Iced over for the duration, I couldn’t wash my hair in the pristine rock pools of my youth. I drank from the early morning dew, my exhaled breath like mini clouds. I took to shaving with stalactites or whatever was available. I presented as an empty canvas on which no shadow had fallen. I survived on wild marmalade tacos and essential oil and shared a shelter with the brittle bones of the dead.


    Liked by 9 people

  17. Deb Whittam says:

    Here’s my response for this week:

    Liked by 5 people

  18. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – February 15, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on […]

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Norah says:

    Gorgeous post, Charli. I thought you’d ended it with a perfect flourish. Then I read your flash. I had to laugh at pups on ice. What a hilarious scene. So nice to hear Danni laugh. All’s not bad in the world when we can laugh out loud at life’s incongruousness. The rest of the post is fascinating, and I spent some time finding out about places mentioned. How exotic is your daughter’s current home. While I don’t like our heat, I don’t envy her the cold and dark. The ice sculptures are pretty amazing. Here we have sand sculptures. What talent it takes to create all these wonders, including the beauty of the images in your post.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Losing the Plot says:

    New to this, so bear with me, not totally sure I’ve got the links working right, but here goes – Current Affairs

    Liked by 2 people

  21. […] February 15: Flash Fiction Challenge February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. […] for Flash Fiction Challenge hosted by Charli. Based on the photo prompt, write in 99 words(no more, no less) Thanks […]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Jules says:

    Still going with the emotional flow (title is post link):

    Small Victory?

    Small Victory?

    The icy stare was one Joyce would not soon forget. One of
    those “how dare you even think of talking to someone ‘I’
    might have been interested in”.

    Joyce and Reggie were downstairs snuggling up on the
    couch on the north wall, when Emma, halfway down the
    stairs vocalized a hello that could have frozen Lake Superior
    in the middle of the summer.

    The sisters were never close, now there was a new
    unspoken wall that registered as a minor triumph for
    Joyce. As Emma stomped back up stairs, Joyce
    was warmed by victory as well as Reggies hugs.


    Liked by 8 people

  24. goroyboy says:

    I have dreamed of levitating physically and spiritually. Thanks Charli.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. […] February 15: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pete says:

    Thaw Time

    Giles shuffled in carrying a block of ice the size of a bun cake. He found his usual stool, slid the ice down the bar, and inquired about the score.

    “1-0 Penguins are up,” said Billy the bartender.

    Giles smiled. Billy took the ice block, studied it, then chucked it into the sink.
    “Looks like you got about two hours tonight”

    Giles nodded. Roughly two hours and eight beers later the Penguins won in overtime. Billy fished a dripping credit card out from the sink and shook his head.

    “Tell Rhonda the thicker the ice, the more you drink.”

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Mother Nature gifts us with so much. Ice bells forming along the shore, amongst the cattails is one of my favorites.

    Ice Bells
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The Chinook winds roll in. Yesterday, -37 today +12. The pond that has been covered with a thick insulating shield of ice now finds itself with tiny puddles forming. Around the edge, last summers’ cattails are mesmerized by the winds. Swaying in their browned coats, watching the wind spraying the melted ice up its stock to dribble back towards the frigid base. A few days of the mid-winter water maker ends as abruptly as it came. In its wake, the ice bells have formed at the base of the cattails in mindless circles below the cold blue sky.

    Liked by 6 people

  28. […] via February 15: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

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  29. What a beautiful piece of prose. I want you to be my writing coach, Charli. My favorite line: ‘Sherbert hues of lemon and raspberry will be the single spoonful of sunlight for one hour and 54 minutes. ‘ And I love the way you circled back to sherbet in the end. You’ve inspired me yet again. Here’s my take on this week’s prompt.

    Liked by 4 people

  30. susansleggs says:


    “My goodness, I’ve never seen such ice sculptures at a wedding. The liquor bottles are nestled in a huge block and the swans look like they could just up and fly away.”
    “Ostentatious waste! If the bride turns into her mother the ice will be flowing in her veins.”
    “For crying out loud, give them a chance before you predict their doom.”
    “The groom’s already done that. I saw him last night kissing one of the bride’s maids.”
    “A congratulatory kiss I’ll wager.”
    “No, a long kiss with hands roving that would melt all the ice in this room.”

    Liked by 8 people

  31. Mosaics

    She had followed him then took the lead. Montreal was her idea. Now the river was breaking up, mosaics of ice shifting, jostling, eager for spring.
    Was she going west with him?
    She loved the idea of him but did not love him.
    “No. I’m staying here.”
    “Be careful.” He kissed her then walked away with no more possessions than when she had first met him.
    There goes a beggar, naked
    Except for his robes
    Of Heaven and Earth

    His oft quoted Kikaku. What kind of a father might he have been, she wondered, unconsciously touching her swelling belly.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (02/15/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Liz H says:

    What a cool challenge this week!

    A Frosty Farewell

    The fog and sleet haven’t let up since we departed Per’s Point. This far north, the sun is never more than a few inches off the horizon, for a few hours at a time. Had we chosen Midsummer, we’d have had near 24-hour sun.

    But transport would’ve been problematic…

    Liked by 4 people

  34. […] Ranch February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  35. […] Mills. The objective is to write a 99-word story based on Charlie’s prompt each week. Her prompt this week, in her own words, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Your daughter is so lucky Charli. Coincidentally, my wife and I were in Longyearbyen in June last year, though on a cruise, so only for a day. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, stark, pristine, straight out of a fairy tale, with reindeer and Eider Ducks roaming around freely (Didn’t get to see a polar bear though.) I wrote a series of stories on my blog at that time, based on what we saw there. We were there on a pilgrimage, so to say, since my wife’s Ph.D. was on Phillip Pullman’s Hid Dark Materials trilogy, key parts of which are based in Svalbard.

    OK, enough prologue, here’s my story for this week. Cheers.

    Liked by 4 people

  37. […] I’m taking part in February 15 Flash Fiction Challenge for Charli over at Carrot Ranch. The prompt is; In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on […]

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Gloria says:

    There are some really great ones here. This is so enjoyable – I need to make it a regular habit! Here’s mine on ice. Little bit different but it’s where the prompt took me.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. Kathryn Evans says:

    Hi Charli and everyone, I’ve been lurking on this site for a while but haven’t posted before. Hope you enjoy!


    Rinkside, several onlookers have gathered. Must make it, must, must! Her platinum blonde hair is gathered into a messy bun, athletic build revealed by a lime green skating dress. She accelerates as she skims through on narrow blades. Focusing her gaze at a spot on the ice, she bends her right leg and shoots upwards, propelled by powerful thigh muscles. A pirouette high above comfort zone, safely landed: her first complete jump. Hearing spontaneous applause, she breaks into a beaming smile revealing teeth as white as the Dover cliffs. Today, a single loop – in four years, the winter Olympics.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to the side of the fence at the Ranch where you get to play in the corral and wrangle the words, Kathryn! Your character has the looks and the drive. I’m glad you thought Olympic this week (appropriate)!


  40. […] It was thoughts of her daughter’s icy environment that inspired Charli’s challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a d… […]

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Ice

    “I don’t care what you want, you are not getting anything.
    The only reason I married you in the first place was to have a pretty mother for my children and a housekeeper.
    But what a let down you have been in both these roles.
    Unfortunately the children seem to have inherited much of your useless personality and your housekeeping accomplishments leave a lot to be desired.”

    At these familiar words, delivered in a voice filled with comtempt; Tracy’s chest constricted and her vision blurred

    The cold dislike in his voice was reinforced by the ice in his eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. […] Mills is one icicle short of a glacier some times, but the descriptions of Swedish ice caves, here, has me wanting to […]

    Liked by 2 people

  43. […] This is in response to Charli Mills Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 2 people

  44. […] The Carrot Ranch Literary Community, hosted by Charli Mills, is HERE. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Michael B. Fishman says:

    I’d like to see Pups on Ice! I’m not a fan of winter and even less of a fan of ice (unless it’s in a glass of lemonade), but I like looking at it and your daughter’s photo is stunning. Here’s mine:

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Hi Charli! Will be back later to catch up properly, but just wanted to send my ice flash over 🙂 ❤

    Ice Dream

    The time had come. Everything she had worked for, years of slog, sacrifice, pain and sweat, all for this single moment. The roar of the crowd ushered her onto the ice and she glided, smooth as silk into position.

    A tiny lull and then the music, its rhythm pulsating through her every move as she swirled and spun and leapt ever closer to her Olympic dream. Nothing less than gold would do.

    ‘Dinner!’ her mother called.

    The ice on the pond melted overnight, but Claire never forgot her moment of glory in her back garden, alone with the ducks

    Liked by 2 people

  47. […] in response to the February 15, 2018, flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Love the pups on ice! And oh how I would love to see Camelot in ice!
    This one gave me chills, Charli…so I wrote that.

    Such strange warmth for this time of year.

    Ice is still thick on the lake, a dull mirror for the fog that hovers inches above the surface. Dense and disconcerting, it blurs the distinction between earth and sky. The shroud makes dusk of midday. What am I not supposed to see?

    The silhouette of a vulture materializes across the field. Perched on the fencepost at the edge of the neighboring property, he sits far too close to the house.

    Fear is illogical – death eaters consume only what is already gone.

    Still, I shiver.

    His stare is an icy blade.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. […] 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads […]

    Liked by 1 person

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